Update: TSX Posts Modest Gains as Commodity Prices Rise, Trails Surging Wall Street

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Canada's main stock market posted modest gains Friday, despite stronger commodity prices, lagging the U.S., as Wall Street climbed more than 1.7%. The S&P/TSX Composite Index was up 39 points or 0.2% to close at 15,577. The Dow Jones added nearly 450 points and the Nasdaq also had a triple digit advance.

On the TSX, materials and industrials were the leaders, rising 0.4%. Energy was up 0.3% as as oil prices surged more than 3% to more than $62 per barrel. Financials also rose 0.3% while losses in telecom and healthcare weighed on the index.

In stock news, heavily traded Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) was up 0.6% while Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) slumped 5%. Among today's influential stocks, Ivanhoe Mines (IVN.TO) jumped 6% while First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) was up 2%.

In economic news, employment grew 15.4k in February after the 88.0k drop in January. Full-time employment fell 39.4k after a 49.0k gain. Part-time jobs improved 54.7k after plunging 137.0k. The unemployment rate was 5.8% in February from 5.9% in January. The participation rate was 65.5%, unchanged from January. Hourly earnings for permanent employees, a BoC favorite, slowed to a 3.1% y/y pace from 3.3% y/y. The resumption in job growth and decline in the unemployment rate is encouraging, but the drop in full-time jobs undercuts the report, backing the widely cautious policy tact from the Bank of Canada this year. Meanwhile, Canada's capacity utilization rate jumped to 86.0% in Q4 from a revised 85.1% in Q4 (was 85.0%). The pick-up in the capacity rate outpaced projections for a modest improvement. The mining, oil and gas extraction sectors and the construction sector drove the pick-up in the capacity use rate. The modest pick-up in employment, dip in the jobless rate, slowing in earnings and pop in the capacity use rate did not challenge the Bank's view that some slack remains in the labour market while the economy is operating at full capacity.

The loonie gained ground, rising half-a-cent to 78.03 US, as trade protectionist concerns ebbed amid carve-outs for Canada in the White House's steel and aluminum tariff plan.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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